Carnival Season in Union City
Rafael Roman Martel
Brian Stack, the mayor of Union City, is up for re-election this year. It’s time for the most outlandish characters to come out of the woodwork to challenge the mayor.
It’s carnival season in Union City.
For those who haven’t experienced Hudson County politics, it must sound rather amusing that a group of people who scuttle about under the darkness of the freezing northeastern night distributing “Stack’s” letters—with accompanying portrait and signature, incriminating himself by apologizing to his constituency for living in another town, having a girlfriend, and other nonsense—are the same people who aspire to run this city.
It’s political stand-up comedy, Hudson County style.
Nevertheless, Stack’s opposition this year has improved its image by spending more money. They are flying planes around Stack’s promoted events with anti-Stack signs. They bought space on billboards in broad boulevards. They distributed grammatically atrocious flyers. Yes, a group of arrested would-be politicians lead the war against a man who oppresses his people with 16,000 turkeys every Thanksgiving and attends to their needs during 16-hour days.
I remember when the opposition in Union City wasn’t a comedy troupe. It had serious contenders, like my old Spanish teacher Cheito. Those guys couldn’t be elected dog catcher, but at least they didn’t aspire to be the laughingstock of the county, and at least they signed their letters with their names.
A couple of weeks ago, a local pamphlet published a letter by one of these freedom fighters signed by “a concern [sic] citizen”.
Stack, who takes on every election as if it was the Battle of the Bulge, is right to be concerned this time: the comedy troupe, appealing to humor in these hard economic times, might give him a hard time. Besides, the Union City mayor always seems to be ahead of the game, and being aware of the high unemployment numbers in the country, his political instinct senses that a group of unemployed comedians have taken politics as plan B.
That is precisely the point of the opposition: humor. They have probably found Stack’s Achilles’ heel.
The mayor of Union City has a sense of humor, there is no question about that, but he’ll never match his upcoming opposition.
It has the funniest website, and its leader and possible mayoral candidate’s mug shot is all over the papers and the internet. It really is a shame there is already an improv comedy troupe called the “Upright Citizens Brigade.”
If you think that this is more than enough to make Stack tremble, then comes their secret weapon: gossip. A wave of rumors created by the mayor’s political nemesis will storm the doors of City Hall. They say this and they say that: A current Assistant Superintendent of the UC School District is already looking for a house in Union City. The mayor is CORRUPT (don’t ask why). The mayor crushes the First Amendment while planes and billboards funnily roam around the city to the amusement of Stack’s supporters who ponder not about the audacity, but the stupidity of these people.
Since facts aren’t usually funny and definitely irrefutable Stack’s opposition keeps away from them.
Meanwhile New Jersey’s Mayor keeps helping his people not only in Union City, but in the 33rd New Jersey State Senator. He answers all his telephone calls and tries to solve every problem that he’s faced with. A workaholic, he puts 16 hours a day in his public office. He has built schools, parks, paved streets, and restored morale and trust back to City Hall. Taxes are not low anywhere, but Stack has kept them stable in Union City compared to other cities like West New York, where they went up 47% in a year. Union City High School is a magnificent building with all the modern technological advances. A new educational institution, Columbus School, is under construction. The police department is one of the best in the state. The aesthetics of the city have dramatically improved. The city has been transformed during Stack’s administration. New water parks with Olympic swimming pools are serving thousands of residents. Contrary to past administrations, Department of Public Works employees could be seen almost 24 hours a day keeping our streets clean, a monumental task if you consider that Union City has almost 70,000 residents enclosed in 1.2 square miles.
Stack’s popularity is no magic trick. He has worked for it almost 30 years.
After his long day, Brian Stack drives around the city taking notes, about anything from a streetlight that has burnt out to the need to be more efficient in cleaning a sidewalk.
That explains why his political rivals resort to coming out at night walking the gossip district, and in a not-so-dramatic but humorous note, get arrested giving high credit to the Union City Police Department, who, under Stack’s administration, is doing their job.